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Academic Language in APA Style, 7th edition
Writing in Formal Language
For in-depth information, see APA tutorial.
Avoid using contractions (using an apostrophe to indicate missing letters in the abbreviated form) to make your writing easier to read.
Example: Use he is instead of "he's"
Avoid redundancy (wordiness). Some tactics in Section 4.5:
- Use because instead of "Due to the fact that" or "The reason is because"
- Use for or to instead of "for the purpose of"
Avoid or limit the use of the following:
- Clichés (words and phrases that have lost specific meaning or interest over time).
Example: Pros and cons
- Slang, colloquialism "you know"
Use descriptive words (as opposed to vague words, e.g., a lot, nice)
For full information on punctuation, see sections 6.1-6.10 of the APA Publication Manual.
- Use a single space after punctuation marks that end a sentence.
- Use hyphens for compound words.
- Use an em dash to distinguish part of a sentence that either amplifies or digresses from the point.
- Microsoft Word usually converts two hyphens that are typed in together as an em dash. Otherwise, you can use the Insert Symbol function in Word to generate an em dash.
- Use an en dash for compound adjectives and numerical ranges.
- You can use the Insert Symbol function in Word to generate an en dash.
- Use parentheses to introduce abbreviations and to denote independent elements and and in-text citations.
- Use square brackets to enclose material that's already in parentheses, confidence intervals, and form descriptions for certain types of work in a reference list.
PERSONAL PRONOUNS (i.e., first person, third person)
When to Use?
In general, the approach you choose depends on the nature of the assignment, and on your field of study. Consult with your instructor, when in doubt.
FIRST Person (personal) Pronouns:
Writing in the first person means that you put yourself inside the writing by describing how you felt and what you were doing.
Pronouns: I, we, me, us, my, our
THIRD Person (personal) Pronouns:
Writing in the third person means removing yourself or the reader from your writing. That is, the story is about other people.
Pronouns: he/she, them, their, they
- Reflective papers, essays
- "... when describing the work you did as part of your research and when expressing your own views." (Section 4.16)
- "If you are writing a paper by yourself, use the pronoun 'I'" (Section 4.16)
In this paper, I argue that ...
I interviewed the volunteers.
- Most academic papers are written in the third person.
This essay argues that ...
- For most academic writing, avoid using the second person pronouns (e.g., you, your) because this type of writing feels personal to the reader or addresses the reader directly.
- Avoid alternating between first person and third person pronouns.
Source: CDC, https://wwwn.cdc.gov/pubs/other-languages?Sort=Lang%3A%3Aasc
For more information, see APA tutorial.
Should I write the number or spell out the number?
For full information on numbers, see sections 6.32-6.39 (pp. 178-180) of the APA Publication Manual,
the APA Tutorial or the Numbers and Statistics Quick Guide Handout, from APA [PDF]
|Use in Words (spelled out)
||Numerals (i.e., the actual numbers)
For 1-9, write the numbers using words.
ninth grade students
For 10 or greater than 10, write the numbers using numerals.
10th grade students
one fifth of the class
Numbers that immediately precede a unit of measurement:
a 5-mg dose
with 10.5 cm of
|After a noun in a numbered series and parts of books and tables (Capitalize the noun):
Year 1, Year 2
Table 2, Figure 5
Items 3 and 5
|Percentages, ratios, percentiles, fractions, decimals:
more than 5%
a ratio of 16:1
the 5th percentile
0.33 of the sample
3 times as many
|Ages, points on a scale:
scored 4 on a 7-point scale
|Starting sentences with numbers:
Numbers that begin a sentence, title, or heading (when possible, reword the sentence to avoid beginning with a number):
Fifty percent of the students ...
Time, dates, money:
1 hr 34 min, 1990s